Review: Mastered by Maya Banks

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: December 29, 2015
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: The Enforcers #1
Synopsis
What he wants, he takes with no remorse or guilt.

She stood out in his club like a gem, unspoiled and untouched. A lamb among wolves, she clearly didn’t belong. Drawn to her innocence he watched as she was surrounded by men who saw what he did—but no one but him could touch her. He summoned her to his private quarters. He sensed her fear. He also recognized the desire in her eyes. And he knew she wouldn’t leave before he possessed her. She had no need to know his secrets. Not until he had her under his complete and utter control.

What he wants, she isn’t sure she can give him.

The moment he told her want he wanted, she couldn’t resist. Instinct told her to run, but her heart said stay and walk the fine line between pleasure and pain. Though she wasn’t sure she could ever completely surrender, the primal part of her wanted to try, even knowing this man could break her in ways she never imagined. Because once he possessed her, he owned her and it would be too late to turn back. She can only pray that he doesn’t destroy her in the end.



Initial Reaction
I usually enjoy Maya Banks's books, but the last few books I read by her (Taking it All and the first 3 books in ongoing her Slow Burn series) were... to be honest... a bit disappointing for me.

But, while there were still things that bothered me, Mastered ended up being a solid 4-star book!
Plot
After a stupid jerk took her virginity, humiliated her, and tossed her aside, Evangeline lets her friends talk her into going to Impulse, a club owned by Drake Donovan. Evangeline was all innocent, naive, inexperienced, and beautiful-but-she-doesn't-know-it, and the moment he first saw her, Drake wanted her for himself. He brought her to his office, gave her her first orgasm, and the next night told her she's quitting her job, and moving in with him. After some reluctance, Evangeline agreed even though she just met Drake the night before and knows nothing about him.

Drake was a very wealthy man, and besides the nightclub Impulse, owns other businesses. He also has enemies and has these big, strong, scary-looking (but also good-looking) men protecting Evangeline at all times, as soon as she walked out the door. They are hard, never-smiling-men, but with Evangeline they are putty and they all fall for her, ready to snatch her up if Drake messes it up.

Mastered ended in a cliffhanger. According to Maya's letter, Evangeline and Drake's story just got so "big and all-consuming" that she and her editor decided to split the story into two books: Mastered and Dominated. It was a very abrupt ending, but it didn't bother me too much (though I know it will bother other readers more). Dominated will be out in May.

Main Characters
Evangeline was your typical too good to be true, good-heart-and-a-gentle-personality girl. Her biggest flaw was that she's "too sweet, too innocent, too forgiving and trusting for her own good." She's beautiful--big, blue eyes, blond hair, and an ass that won't quit--but she doesn't see it and people around her were constantly telling her that she was beautiful. Yeah, there was A LOT of eye-rolling when it came to Evangeline. I liked her best when she stood up for herself.

Drake was very Christian Grey-ish (well, movie Christian Grey since I only saw the movie). Here's a line about him from the book: "He had very exacting standards when it came to the women he took to his bed, the number one being absolute submission and him being in complete control, just as he was in control of every aspect of his business and personal life." He's sexy and dark, and he turned up the heat during the smexy scenes.

Evangeline, Drake, and all of the secondary characters were all stock Maya Banks characters. I've seen them all before in her previous books. I didn't dislike them, but they were predictable and nothing they did nor their inner motivations surprised me. Yet, despite their predictableness I still found them interesting to read about. I was never bored reading Mastered.

Pacing/Writing Style
There was never a dull moment in Mastered and that kept me reading at a faster pace than usual. While I read, I didn't constantly watch the page numbers--I'd sit and read, and when I emerged from the story, it's 25 pages later and I feel surprised because I didn't feel as if I read that any pages. Yes, the plot and the characters were predictable, but these did not stop me from immersing myself in the story. Heck, I'm not even a fan of BDSM-themed romance novels yet I enjoyed reading Mastered.

I mentioned in my previous reviews of the repetitiveness of some detail or inner dialogue in this author's books, which is a personal reading pet peeve of mine. I'm happy to say it wasn't as bad in Mastered was it was in her previous books. This may not bother other readers but it really takes me out of the story when I keep reading the same detail or an inner thought keeps being recycled over and over again.

Final Thoughts
Mastered was an engrossing read. I ended up enjoying it more and, for me, it's one of the better ones among Maya Banks's recent releases. I am looking forward to Dominated to see how Evangeline and Drake's story will conclude. If you're a Maya Banks fan, then Mastered is a must-read. If you like very steamy, dirty, hot smexin' romance reads with BDSM elements you might want to look into and pick up Mastered.

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